Components of Police Management
Police management in the United States of America has undergone remarkable changes in the past 100 years. Many of these changes are a result of external pressure (such as economic or community expectations) for improved crime control, service and cost-effectiveness. Officers in the first modern police departments walked to preserve the peace in local neighborhoods. Such policing strategies limited police service and response. Progressive chiefs in 1920 introduced new technologies, like the police car, two-way radios and telephone to transform policing into a reactive crime strategy that focused on rapid response to calls for service. These innovations improved efficiency, but also distanced the police from the community. During the social and political crises of the 1960s, police departments sought to broaden their fundamental mission beyond crime control by improving their relationship with the public and reconsidering their traditional reactive policing strategies (Reiss, 1992).
During the period from 1980 to 1990, serious crimes increased to historic highs and clearance rates declined to less than 50 percent (Willis, 2008). Local officials and police sought financial and technical assistance from the federal government to develop and enact new strategies for crime control (like community policing, hot spots policing, problem-oriented policing and crime mapping) and improved management tools (such as forensic deoxyribonucleic acid profiling, ballistics identification and electronic crime mapping). This was to help the police to be effective (Willis, 2008). The modern-day primary components of police management are strategic management, analysis and research and technology (Weisburd and Braga, 2006). This paper looks at three primary components and in what way the typical police manager might strengthen or weaken a typical patrol officer’s delivery of services.
Strategic management involves an assessment of criminal and terrorist activity, threat and vulnerabilities. Such an assessment includes gap analysis or capabilities review (Willis, 2008). The selection of strategic goals and objectives for improving police performance is crucial in the assessment. Besides, there is the implementation and deployment of practices, methodologies, tools, as well as technologies to support the goals and objectives. The strategic plan should include processes for coming up with community partnership and fostering public support for policing initiatives. Lastly, there should be monitoring and assessment of strategic management program to check for its effectiveness and guide new adjustments and modifications (Willis, 2008).
The typical police manager should foster strategic management by involving the patrol officer in development of the strategic program (Weisburd & Braga, 2006). The patrol officer should have a chance to communicate opinions and experiences that could influence the strategic plan. This is because the patrol officer knows best what works on the ground as he/she takes part in the groundwork. For instance, the patrol officer has the first-hand information about the neighborhood that needs added vigilance, or the suspected drug trafficker who needs close monitoring. In addition, it is crucial for the police manager to involve the patrol officer in the strategic planning exercise in order to foster ownership of the strategic goals and objectives by the whole police fraternity (Willis, 2008). There is always the possibility that junior police officers may neglect strategic decisions that do not consider their views.
Another primary component of the police management involves analysis and research. There should be continuous research and analysis of data concerning the police. This practice is crucial for coming up with strategic priorities (McDevitt, 2007). Besides, the ongoing data analysis is useful to monitor progress against the set strategic goals (Willis, 2008). Routine data analyses will also inform police organizations about trends and allow a synthesis of data from various sources. This will enable the leadership to make outstanding decisions about resource allocation and deployment.
The police manager can strengthen a patrol officer’s productivity by fostering data analysis and research skills. This could involve encouraging the patrol officer to set individual objectives and assessment methods for everyday activity. For instance, the police manager could provide diaries to the patrol officers for them to record their daily achievements and failures (Weisburd & Braga, 2006). Besides, the manager should organize trainings in which the police officers will learn the basic research and analysis skills. The patrol officers should be able to do a thorough research about a chosen strategy before taking any action. Besides, research skills will enable officers to relate their daily experiences to what is happening in other parts of the world (McDevitt, 2007). Research skills involve the use of manual skills (such as in collecting evidence) as well as technology. This moves us to the next point of technology.
Another primary component of the police management involves the use of technology. Recent technological advances and tools can enable police organizations to improve data collection, display and analysis, sharing of information and surveillance activities (McDevitt, 2007). These advances in technology can foster the realization of the strategic goals planned by the police organization.
The police management can use technology to ensure efficiency in running the police force. This could entail training the patrol police officers in various technologies that are useful in solving criminal puzzles. For instance, there should be the training of the police officers in charge of crime scenes on the way to collect evidence for deoxyribonucleic acid profiling. In addition, police officers should know the current technology that suspects might use to propagate crimes. This could involve the use of mobile technology to trace suspects and the use of closed-circuit television, among others.
Besides, the police management might use technology to aid in record keeping, research and data analysis. Exemplary management requires excellent organization (McDevitt, 2007). Unlike in the old days, when management depended on manual filing systems and data analysis, modern-day technological advances have eased the process. Computer software like Excel and statistical packages of social sciences enable fast retrieval and analysis of data. Moreover, these technologies enable exemplary storing of information of all the officers in the police force (Weisburd & Braga, 2006). The manager would find it easy to do performance appraisals needed for staff grading, be it promotions or demotions.
Technology can help to prevent crime (McDevitt, 2007). The police officer who uses the closed circuit television will easily identify a suspicious character and take a timely action. This may have the advantage of minimizing life-threatening confrontations of suspects and police officers. Another example would involve electronic surveillance technologies that employ software capable of identifying behavioral anomalies and facial features of suspects. In addition, there exist internet communication programs that enhance situational awareness among law enforcement and community stakeholders. There is also artificial intelligence software that uses an array of data to drive deployment of law enforcement assets (McDevitt, 2007).
Overall, the police management should always encourage its officers to orient towards technology. In addition, the management has a duty of ensuring the inclusion of funds for technology in the budget. If patrol police officers lack the knowledge and access to technology, there is the fear of compromising their morale and productivity. The police manager should ensure that his/her officers are receiving trainings on cutting-edge technologies in order to maximize productivity (McDevitt, 2007). The use of technology is inseparable to policing. When officers are to solve crime mysteries, the management should ensure that there is access to technology.
The recent increase in sophisticated crime calls for new approaches in the management of the police. These approaches should take into consideration strategic planning, research and analysis, as well as technology. If police managers take into account these three factors, the world is likely to have an efficient police force.